Unicorn horn

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( Unicorn horn
Name unicorn horn
Appearance unicorn horn
Damage vs. small 1d12
Damage vs. large 1d12
To-hit bonus +1
Weapon skill unicorn horn
Size two-handed
Cost 100 zm
Weight 20
Material bone

A unicorn horn (or unihorn) is an important tool for curing your adventurer. You can also wield a unicorn horn as a two-handed melee weapon doing d12 damage; it makes a great non-artifact weapon for roles who are not restricted in the "unicorn horn" skill. You can also use a unicorn horn to help identify potions.

Thus, a unicorn horn is an important part of almost any ascension kit.

What it can cureEdit

An uncursed or blessed unicorn horn can cure:

Sickness is normally fatal, and the unicorn horn is the easiest way to cure sickness (you might not have the right potion or spell, and you might not be able to safely pray). The other ailments, such as blindness and confusion, normally time out, but a unicorn horn removes them faster. Repeatedly apply the horn until you are completely cured.

The approximate cumulative odds of curing a single ailment, as per the list above (assumes player's trouble is in the three {uncursed} or seven {blessed} problems it's cured):[1]


Trials 12345
Cures 64.6% 87.5% 95.638% 98.43% 99.44%


Trials 12345
Cures 77.4% 94.89% 98.85% 99.74% 99.94%

What it can't doEdit

A unicorn horn cannot cure:

It also cannot:

Messages Edit

"Nothing happens." You have no conditions the unicorn horn can fix.
"Nothing seems to happen." You have a condition that could be fixed, but it wasn't.
"This makes you feel great!" You had attribute points restored, and you have no other conditions.
"This makes you feel better!" You had attribute points restored, but you still have other conditions.

(Possibly something like wounded legs that the horn can't fix.)

"What a relief!" The unicorn horn cured you of food poisoning or illness.

Obtaining a unicorn horn Edit

There are few different ways to obtain a unicorn horn; for example, you can find one in a bones level. However, by far the most common method is to kill a unicorn and take its horn.

When you encounter a unicorn, you might encounter any of the three varieties: black unicorn, gray unicorn, and white unicorn (representing chaotic, neutral, and lawful alignment). A unicorn that matches your alignment will be peaceful; do not kill them (yourself at least) or you will incur a severe (-5) Luck penalty. Any other unicorn is hostile; if you can kill it, it will drop its horn.

(On a bones level, the hostile/peaceful status of unicorns may not follow the usual rule. The Luck penalty applies whenever you kill a unicorn of your own alignment, even if it were hostile. However, throwing gems, even worthless glasses, will calm it down.)

During your first encounter with a hostile unicorn, you will probably not be strong enough to fight it in melee; a unicorn is fast and can hit you multiple times per turn. Let your pet attack it, and hit with ranged attacks. If you lack speed, unicorns will usually avoid being in line with your character, but using ray-based attack wands you can hit the unicorn by reflecting rays off walls. When it dies, it is guaranteed to leave a corpse and a horn. If you can get to the corpse before your pet does, there is a chance that eating it will grant poison resistance.

Even if the unicorn is of the same alignment as you, there is no penalty to your character if your pet succeeds in killing the unicorn. If you have no pet and no unicorn horn, you may wish to kill a coaligned unicorn yourself: if so, it's a good idea to throw it some valuable gems beforehand to offset the Luck penalty for killing it. Even better, after killing the coaligned unicorn, zap it with a wand of undead turning and throw some more gems at it, completely offsetting the luck penalty. Note that a resurrected unicorn may not drop a second horn; instead, its horn will crumble to dust 95% of the time if the revived unicorn is slain.[2]

Cursed unicorn horn Edit

Applying a cursed unicorn horn will randomly cause ailments that non-cursed unicorn horns cure, including fatal disease. A unicorn horn which you have obtained yourself by killing a unicorn will always be uncursed and +0, but if you found it on a bones pile, it is important to check if the horn is cursed. Test it with your pet, or drop it on an altar, or use some other method. (If you do the pet test, you should later drop it on an altar or identify it so you know the actual BUC status and can notice if it later becomes cursed.) If your only unicorn horn is cursed, and you cannot fix it, you will want to kill another unicorn.

A cursed unicorn horn, is, however of some use. It allows getting confused at will without using up potions of confusion, e.g. for using a scroll of enchant armor to erodeproof armor or for generating large amounts of acid blobs using scrolls of create monster. You will need a non-cursed unicorn horn to deal with the other negative effects.

Bless your unicorn horn as soon as possible, both because a blessed unicorn horn is more reliable and because it provides extra protection against it becoming cursed later on. In SLASH'EM, enchanting a unicorn horn also increases its effectiveness.

Save extra horns Edit

As you kill more unicorns, you will obtain more of their horns. Save them in your stash or remember their locations so you can retrieve a spare. You might lose your horn, or something might polymorph your unicorn horn or make it cursed.

If you have several spares, you might consider trying to polymorph some of them; unicorn horns count as magical tools, which means they have a good chance to become a useful magic marker. However, polypiling many horns may generate a skeleton.

Using a unicorn horn to identify potions Edit

Once you possess a (non-cursed) unicorn horn, you can use it to help identify potions. The basic strategy is simple:

  1. BUC test the potion. Quaffing a cursed potion is unwise - although you will still be able to identify it, you will miss out on the benefit of useful potions and suffer increased damage from harmful ones. Dipping a unicorn horn into a cursed potion of water will curse the horn. Fortunately, potions of water always appear as clear potions when unidentified.
  2. If you do not have a spare unicorn horn, you may wish to dip a junk object into the potion at this point, in case it is a potion of polymorph which will turn your unicorn horn into some other (almost certainly less useful) object if you dip your unicorn horn into it. However, if you have spare unicorn horns available, you may wish to intentionally allow some of your unicorn horns to become polymorphed, since polymorphing unicorn horns is a common way to get magic markers. Dipping a weapon (such as arrows) is another common choice: if the potion is sickness, the weapon will become poisoned.
  3. Dip the unicorn horn into the potion. This will turn potions of sickness into uncursed potions of fruit juice ("The {color} potion turns {color}."), and potions of hallucination, confusion, and blindness into uncursed potions of water. If the potion changes color or clears and was not already named, you will be given the opportunity to name the original potion.
  4. If the dipping produced no effect (message "interesting..."), then the potion is probably safe to drink, although some potions (notably paralysis and sleeping) still harm you even though a unicorn horn does not neutralize them. Potions of booze will not be neutralized, but the negative effects can be cancelled as long as the potion was not cursed.

You should wait for your health to completely heal before quaffing. That way, should you quaff a potion of healing or extra healing, your maximum health or power stat will increase. In addition, should you quaff a potion of acid or sickness, it will be much less likely to kill you outright.

Potions of paralysis and sleeping will render you immobile or asleep for some turns and unable to apply the unicorn horn, but the effect will wear off in under 50 turns. The main problem is that a monster may kill you while you are unable to move. The safest way to avert this danger is to wear a ring of free action, which protects against paralysis and sleeping. Other mitigation techniques include being on a shallower dungeon level, killing all monsters around you, and having your pet(s) nearby. If you are paranoid enough, lock yourself in a closet.

Potions of oil will be identified, but wasted. One way to protect against this is to attempt to apply new potions that you find.

Unicorn horns and scrollsEdit

Unlike with potions, unicorn horns are not useful for identifying scrolls. If you read a scroll of amnesia or a scroll of punishment, a unicorn horn is no help.

Unicorn horn skillEdit

Unicorn horn
Max Role

Only unicorn horns use the unicorn horn skill, and there are no artifact unihorns.

Even with the unskilled, a unicorn horn is a popular weapon against rust monsters.


SLASH'EM adds an artifact unicorn horn, Nighthorn. It is lawful and confers reflection when wielded. One obtains Nighthorn by killing Nightmare at the end of the Lawful Quest, provided the manner of her death would leave a corpse (no disintegration or digestion!). She will then drop the cursed +0 Nighthorn in lieu of a corpse. Nighthorn is impractical for non-lawful characters, as it may inflict 8d6 blasting damage on them every time it is applied or wielded. However, a character that uses a unicorn horn as a weapon and never plans to unwield it might find it a useful source of reflection.

Encyclopedia entry Edit

See the encyclopedia entry for unicorn.

References Edit

  2. mon.c, line 201

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